August 10, 2014
Guest: Amy Goodman, Derrell Bradford, Randi Weingarten, Dana Goldstein,
Vincent Hutchings, Kai Wright, Jonathan Rosa, Lin Dunn
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning, my question. Why is a
school yard brawl unfolding in the courts?
Plus, a U.S. congressman claims there is a war on whites.
And the verdict this week was guilty on all three counts.
But, first, President Obama explains the latest mission in Iraq.
Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
And this morning we begin with the latest from northern Iraq where last
night the U.S. military conducted a third air drop of food and water to
thousands of civilians trapped on Mt. Sinjar by militant extremists.
The military also conducted more air strikes against the Islamic State in
Iraq and Syria or ISIS. The Pentagon said U.S. fighter jets and drones
struck several ISIS armed personnel carriers in a mission to defend Yazidis
trapped on the mountain.
NBC News foreign correspondent Keir Simmons is on the ground in Erbil,
Iraq. And he filed this report for us this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEIR SIMMONS, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Melissa, good morning.
Kurdish forces are battling with ISIS on the outskirts of this city
embolden by those U.S. airstrikes that have held to take out some of that
ISIS equipment that was so threatening.
This city under threat, a bill that prompted President Obama to act. But
now, there are blood curdling stories from Iraq`s human rights minister and
saying that 500 members of the Yazidi community have been killed saying
that he believes 300 women have been kidnapped and even telling terrible
stories about some people being married alive by ISIS. Little wonder that
the civilians are so frightened that so many of them flee and that there is
such a sense that this city has to be protected. The question, of course,
is if those battles between the Kurds and is combined with the air strikes
do not push is back what does the west do then?
Back to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was NBC News Keir Simmons in Erbil, Iraq.
But now I want to turn to the politics. Because that was a remarkable
moment yesterday morning, a glimpse into the thinking of the commander in-
chief when President Obama spoke to reporters at length about his decision
to involve the United States, again, in Iraq. Via air strikes and
humanitarian aid, amid growing violence from the militant extremist known
as ISIS. But one particular reporter`s questions seemed to put the
President on the defensive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Last question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: President , do you have any second thoughts
about pulling all ground troops out of Iraq and does it give you pause as a
U.S., doing the same thing in Afghanistan?
OBAMA: Yes. You know what I just find interesting is the degree to which
this issue keeps on coming up, as if this was my decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The President was responding to criticism from the right
that the exit of the last U.S. combat troops from Iraq in December of 2011
directly caused the current outbreak of violence in Iraq. The criticism
has comes from people like former vice President Dick Cheney and Senator
John McCain. They blame the President for the violence and the rise of
President Obama argued yesterday they could not have left any U.S. troops
in Iraq because the sovereign Iraqi government would not allow those troops
to stay. And the President made sure to mention that it was the previous
administration, not his own, that handed control of Iraq over to the Iraqi
With me today is Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Democracy Now
and Colonel Jack Jacobs, MSNBC military analyst and Medal of Honor
Thanks to both of you for being here.
You know, the press conference happened live while we were on the air and
that moment when the President begins to respond to that last question,
Amy, I felt a really shift in his mood and tone. And when he said, this
keeps coming up as though that was my decision and, hasn`t he sort of
repeatedly told us that this was his decision?
AMY GOODMAN, HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW: Well, first of all, I think he should
abide by what he initially felt about the war in Iraq, when he was a state
senator. And that is oppose it. And oppose it, again. He says, yes, the
decision to pull out now is ultimately, actually, because of the Bush
administration. And the end agreement that was reached. And that if he
kept soldiers on the ground they could be tried in Iraqi courts.
We have to ask questions about should some soldiers and particularly
mercenary companies like what was formally known as black water be try in
Iraqi courts for what they did there. but right now, President Obama
should abide by what he originally thought about the war in Iraq. This can
do no one any good.
HARRIS-PERRY: I just want to listen for a moment to President Obama both
in 2007 making the pledge to remove troops and also in 2011 trumpeting his
capacity to pull troops out. Let`s take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I will promise you this. That if we have not gotten our troops out
by the time I am president, it is not the first thing I will do. I will
get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that
to the bank.
As a candidate for president, I pledge to bring the war in Iraq to a
responsible end. Today, I can say that our troops in Iraq will definitely
be home for the holidays.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So Colonel Jacobs, given he has taken this position. And I
understand the combat troops are different than the residual forces that
could have been left by status of forces agreement, but given sort of the
long history of President Obama taking that position, is it, in fact, a
bogus question as he described it to ask him whether or not working harder
to have a status of forces agreement and leave residual troops in Iraq
would have made a difference here?
COL. JACK JACOBS, MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: It`s not a bogus question. It`s
a responsible question to ask. And if you want to hear the continuity of
the conversations ark from the very beginning that you just showed until
now, I think it`s important to ask that question so we can renew the
investigation. There`s plenty of blame to go around.
JACOBS: The original sin is going there in the first place. But it was
compounded by the decision to put an insufficient number of troops there to
secure the objective. It always takes more resources to hold on to an
objective military than it does to take it in the first place. And anybody
including Petraeus and McChrystal (ph), any military person with military
experience would say the same thing. It would have taken 200,000 to
300,000 troops for a decade to make sure that whatever gains we have made
in Iraq were secured and secured for a long period of time. By the way,
the most surprise in the world when we went into Iraq in the first place
was Saddam Hussein.
HARRIS-PERRY: Given our long relationship with them.
So here is the rubbing, so as I was listen to the president, here is the
word for me as a progressive who was a Chicagoan living in Hyde park at the
time that President Obama was a state senator and opposed the war which is,
OK, that original sin of going in but then once that sin is committed, do
we bear a special responsibility because part of what I also heard the
President say yesterday as almost the we now as a nation we own the Yazidi
problem. That it is now a responsibility to make sure that these
individuals have faith --.
GOODMAN: We absolutely bear a special responsibility.
GOODMAN: The U.S. has bombed the cradle of civilization back to the cradle
and all havoc has broken loose right now. This is not a surprise. I`m
sitting here with Patrick Cobern`s (ph) book, "the Jihadist return, ISIS in
the new Sunni uprising." He had time to write this one.
HARRIS-PERRY: Wait a minute. There is a book on this?
GOODMAN: Because I mean, and this also goes to root causes. You go around
the world. You look at when ISIS was taking over eastern Syria, the world
was focused on what was happening in Gaza. And we cannot forget this.
Now, look what President Obama said when he announced the attack, that he
would -- the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. He said talking about the Yazidis.
Very important to help them I agree. He said we must help these innocent
people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale.
Well, here he is saying when we just saw that in Gaza, 1,900 Palestinians
killed and not only did the U.S. not help, they provided those that killed
them with the ammunition.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`ll go further. I`ll suggest that on our southern border
right now we have young people who are fleeing circumstances of certain
death and we have partisan agreement on both sides to return those young
people as swiftly as possible. And so, given that, we know that it can`t
just be -- it can`t solely be about civilians in danger. But the President
GOODMAN: The support for Maliki who has created this enormous divide with
the Sunnis. ISIS would not be so strong if many Sunnis who would not
support ISIS` ultimate goal. Were not joining because they feel under
siege from the current prime minister, but the U.S. has given tens of
billions of dollars to Iraq.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well then, this goes, Colonel Jack, to what ask you just
said about Saddam Hussein being surprised about the U.S. intervention
shocked in Iraq because of our long-standing coalition with him initially,
particularly over and against Iran. Is that where Maliki is right now. As
he hears the President of the United States stand there and basically say
ISIS would not happen had you not been the prime minister? Is he
experiencing a similar sense of shock?
JACOBS: No. He knows he`s reprehensible crook. And that he has not done
what we had expect him to do naively nor what he had promised to do and
that is to be inclusive and make sure that Iraq`s in the position to defend
GOODMAN: And yet we sure him up with the tremendous amount of money and
weapons and missiles that ISIS now has.
JACOBS: We don`t conflate the strategic with the tactical. And I think
the president`s being disingenuous when he talks about the large scale, the
longer ark of the conversation in Iraq.
His decision to drop bombs on bad guys. And by the way, we haven`t dropped
very many bombs. We only had like a dozen which is insufficient really to
do the job, is for two reasons. Protect Erbil, which vitally important
that we protect Erbil. We have thousands of Americans in that area. And
to do what we can to protect the ten of 15,000 innocent people sitting on
top of the mountain. These are not strategic objectives. They are purely
tact and they have nothing to do with our interest Reith large in the
HARRIS-PERRY: And I will just say it, the core, I really fundamentally
believe we have the right to ask about that, even if it irritates our
GOODMAN: Yes. I mean, Congress should be debating it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Every one`s on vacation.
Thank you to Colonel Jack Jacobs. Amy Goodman is going to stick around.
Up next, the lasts on the continuing violence in the place that Amy just
reminded us of, Gaza. Efforts to create a cease-fire.
HARRIS-PERRY: Hostilities are continuing in Gaza and Israel today after a
three-day cease-fire came to an end on Friday. The death toll has
continued to rise since hostilities began last month. More than 1,900
Palestinians have been killed, including 450 children. Nearly 10,000 more
have been wounded, 67 Israelis have also been killed in the fighting,
including three civilians.
Joining us now with the latest from Tel Aviv is NBC news correspondent
Martin, are we any closer to coming to an agreement to end this fighting?
MARTIN FLETCHER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Melissa. Well, I think there
is movement in Cairo, but the Israelis are not there taking part in the
negotiations. They came back on Friday for the Sabbath and said they`re
not coming back to Cairo until the firing from Gaza stops. So although the
Israelis are not actually in Cairo negotiating, nevertheless, there is
progress being made there of a kind.
It appears, this hasn`t been confirmed yet, but it appears that the
Palestinians agree to an Egyptian proposal for another 72-hour cease-fire,
another three-day humanitarian cease-fire. So that has been agreed to,
apparently, by the Palestinians. There`s been no response specifically to
that yet by Israel. But this morning after the cabinet meeting Prime
Minister Netanyahu said only that in addition to Israel not negotiating
under fire he also said the military operation is ongoing. That`s the word
he used, ongoing. So there is still fighting going on.
Well, I have to say it`s pretty half-hearted compared to the way it`s been.
In the last 24-hour period, there has only been 15 rockets fired from Gaza
into Israel. And it is not even clear that Hamas fired those. It appears
other Islamic militant organization have been doing the firing.
So 15, that`s down from a daily average of 130, 140 rockets a day. So
rockets being fired at Israel, not many, only one needed to be intercepted
by the iron dome anti-missile rocket system and Israel has fired back about
35 times into Gaza today killing another boy, killing a 12-year-old boy.
It is not clear yet what those circumstances were.
So there is fighting, still continuing. It`s not nearly as intense as it
was. Israel has sent home half of the army reserves it called up. They
sent back 40,000 reserves out of 86,000. So that`s another sign that an
imminent increase in the fighting is not really on the horizon. What is on
the horizon, though, is progress in that cease-fire talks probably if the
Palestinians are proposing a 72-hour cease-fire Israel will come aboard
within a day or two. And that cease-fire that is intended to provide time
and space to end the fighting in the longer term. So I would say things
are looking good, though we are not yet there, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: NBC news Martin Fletcher in Tel Aviv. Thank you for your
continued reporting. And here is hoping we do move towards peace.
Up next, the fight over our teachers is now raging coast to coast. And the
latest battleground is the courtroom.
HARRIS-PERRY: New York state is the latest target for efforts to end
teacher tenure. Education reform has won a major victory in June when a
California judge ruled the state`s teacher tenure statutes were
On the hills of that decision, two lawsuits were filed in New York state.
One is being funded and coordinated by millionaire David Welch`s group,
Students Matter. He led that group led the California case. Also, former
CNN and NBC news anchor Campbell Brown has been leading media efforts for
the second lawsuit. She joined MSNBC`s Chris Matthews on Monday and shared
a key talking point against tenure laws.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR, HARDBALL: How we`re getting rid of tenure
laws make education for the average kid better?
CAMPBELL BROWN, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: We have a lot of challenges we need to
address. But this is one of them which is the goal of getting an effective
teacher in front of every child. And what tenure laws have become in most
places is permanent lifetime employment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Permanent lifetime employment. Now, that is what Supreme
Court justices have. But it`s not an accurate description of teacher
tenure. Policies differ by state, but generally tenure is best understood
as a guarantee of due process.
Let`s take one state, Massachusetts. That is a state ranked first in the
nation in K-12 educational outcomes. Massachusetts law provides that
teachers receive professional teacher status after three years of service
and a teacher with professional teacher status pursuant to section 41 shall
not be dismissed, except for inefficiency, incompetency, incapacity,
conduct on becoming a teacher, insubordination or failure on the part of
the teacher to satisfy teacher performance standards pursuant to section 38
this chapter or other just cause. I mean, you start reading law.
The statute also spells out due process available for those educators with
professional teacher status, including review of a dismissal decision
within 30 days after receiving notice of the dismissal.
And in arbitration, the school district shall have the burden of proof in
determining whether the district has proven ground for dismissal consistent
with this section. The arbiters will consider the best interest in the
pupils in the district and the need for elevation of performance standards.
Now that sounds very different from permanent lifetime employment. So why
are such high-profile efforts by those with little no professional
educational expertise drawing such support?
Perhaps it`s because we increasingly framed education reform as a choice
between what is good for teachers and what is good for students. The
scores accountability, longer school days, extended school years, union,
ten-years, charters, magnets. While we are raising to the top that trying
to leave no child behind, have we lost sight of what teaching and learning
actually look like?
Joining me now is Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of "Democracy
Now," Dana Goldstein who is staff writer at the Marshal Project and author
of "the teacher wars," Randi Weingarten who is president of the American
federation of teachers and Derrell Bradford, executive director of New York
campaign for achievement now. Thanks to you all for being here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks for having us.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me start, Dana, because I wonder if I have the history
wrong. This feels so new to me. It feels to me like I grew up in the `70s
and `80s when the common belief is that teachers are underpaid, that, you
know, the good folks kind of doing the best they can and we may have
problems in schools, but the teachers aren`t the problems. They are
generally the solution versus what feels like now a general consensus, not
absolute, that teachers are a serious part of our educational
underperformance. Is that older than I think? It feels new. But maybe it
DANA GOLDSTEIN, AUTHOR, THE TEACHER WARS: It is not new. And that`s one
of the things that surprised me so much when I was researching and writing
this book about the history of teaching. We have actually had this idea
around since the early 19th century that if just we get rid of the people
that are teaching now and replace them with a new group of teachers that we
can really improve our schools. And we`ve done that a couple different
times. Teaching was originally a male profession in the early 1800s and we
changed it to a female profession. We tried all these different ways to
get people in a new profession.
HARRIS-PERRY: And that is actually part of why we need a tenure of due
process, right, because we fired teachers for getting pregnant, unmarried.
I mean, I don`t mean to be, that is part of why these laws grew up.
GOLDSTEIN: Yes. So tenure actually dates back to 1909. New Jersey was
the first state to institute it. And at the time, it was something that a
lot of reformers and teachers actually agreed about. We saw teachers
getting fired for a lot of ridiculous reasons back then because they were
pregnant, as you say, perhaps they were African-American or for so many
different reasons or they just didn`t get along with the mayor. At that
time everyone kind of agreed that this is messed up. Let`s create a
stronger set of laws. And so, tenures actually pre-gated a lot of the
protection we have today against discrimination in the job market.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So given that, that could be an argument against
teacher tenure. That could be an argument that says, all right, this was
about 1909. This was about us not having the kinds of civil rights
protections that we now have against identity, you know, you can`t fire
someone for those purposes. And so, let`s shed teacher tenure because it
is redundant, right?
But that isn`t typically the way that I hear the argument framed by
Campbell Brown and students first (ph) and other. I hear it framed as
tenure provides lifetime employment for bad teachers. And honestly, as I
look at the statutes, I don`t see, for the most part that that is what
DERRELL BRADFORD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEW YORK CAMPAIGN FOR ACHIEVEMENT
NOW: It`s, obviously, much more nuanced and I will agree with you, I, too,
grew up in the `70s and `80s.
So there is a difference between the idea of the intellectual and
professional protections and tenure and how they actually manifest
themselves in the world. And I think you really hit on the most important
thing which is that the due process protections in tenure are kind of like
the protections that most public employees have already but on steroid
steroids. It is like the difference between the safety patrol and the
So, in New York state, it costs $300,000 and takes 830 days to remove a
teacher who is demonstrated as ineffective on a student achievement. Take
more time or less but the fact it takes three years and $300,000 I would
argue is both bad for the teacher and terrible for the student.
HARRIS-PERRY: So help me understand where that number comes from.
BRADFORD: Sure. So, it`s, the process is so arcane, it has so many steps,
so many legal interactions takes so much will and effort to do. And again,
it`s like so financially burdensome that no one does it. So, tenure
itself, I would think, you know, Campbell and most of you were assuming in
these things, we`re not necessarily saying that teachers shouldn`t have
tenure. We`re saying that like, well --
HARRIS-PERRY: But that actually, I mean, I appreciate that there is
complexity here, but they are really saying teachers shouldn`t have tenure.
RANDI WEINGARTEN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: Can I just
say? Look, we should have real conversations about this. But we shouldn`t
live in an evidence-free zone. Because we saw that allegation in one of
the cases. And, you know --
HARRIS-PERRY: The $300,000, three years.
WEINGARTEN: Yes. And frankly, you know, when I said this on "Morning Joe"
this week, as well. Look. Think about what you just said about the
teacher tenure laws. We stepped up and saw that they were taking too long.
And that people were not managing them right. And in New York state, in
2012, there was a legal change and the state department of education has
put out facts that predate, meaning, Campbell Brown and her bevy of lawyers
could have found them. Right now in New York state, it takes an average
about 150 days to do these cases.
And, frankly, Melissa, when we did this work with Ken Feinberg, he
basically said in a sexual misconduct case, it should take about 100 days.
And what you just put out last week was that the median takes about 100
So, the point is, these laws are important and the unions stepped up. You
even, you even praised the change in New Jersey.
BRADFORD: I worked on the change in New Jersey.
WEINGARTEN: So what I`m saying is that we`re living in a deja vu situation
where we said, let`s figure out how to reform things in a way that works
where you actually have due process. You have dismissal but you also
streamline the process and that`s what the New Yorkers have done. Why is
she bringing the case?
HARRIS-PERRY: We have much, much more on all of this, plenty. I promise.
Up next, what if a key fact used in the California ruling on teacher tenure
wasn`t quite a fact at all. Like it was more like a guess. What
difference does that make to the ruling? When we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: After a California judge struck down teacher tenure laws in
the state, we invited lead co-counsel for the plaintiffs, Marcelus McRae,
to our show to discuss the implications of the ruling and he told us the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARCELUS MCRAE, LEAD CO-COUNSEL FOR THE PLAINTIFFS: Even if you can take
the numbers that were conceded by the experts on the other side in this
case, the number of gross lean effective teachers is about one to three
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That statistic, that one to three percent of teachers are
quote grossly ineffective is pulled from the California judge`s ruling.
Quoting a witness for the defense, Dr. David (INAUDIBLE) said he testified
that one to three percent of teachers in California are grossly
ineffective. The judge wrote that the doctor statistics show that the
number of grossly ineffective teachers have a direct real approachable a
negative impact on a significant number of California students.
Except, that statistic isn`t a hard fact. In fact, the expert witness who
testified to it later told slate Jordan Weisman and confirmed to MSNBC that
in his words the figure was a guesstimate. I pulled that out of thin air,
he said. There`s no data on that.
He also stated that he never used the word grossly ineffective. And now
that guesstimate has testified to o court has helped dismantled teacher
tenure in the most populous state in the country.
So Randi said this before the break, Amy, that we can`t live in a data free
zone and I guess part of what I keeping surprised about is the extent to
which there is standing in public opinion in the court of public opinion
for folks who are not themselves professional teachers and even at this
table we don`t have anyone who is like in this moment teaching in a
classroom and I wonder if it`s because we just really don`t think of it as
a profession. We just think of it as, you know, something anyone can go
GOODMAN: Well, you know, I`m glad you said let`s talk data because we`re
talking school and we`re talking about education and what kids should learn
and having learning from experience and from actual facts. Everything is
not just a matter of opinion.
I mean, what we`re talking about and it`s been said here before is teachers
simply having due process. That they feel that they are safe in speaking
out so that they can work with their children.
There are certainly ineffective teachers and there are ineffective
administrations that don`t know how to deal with going after a teacher that
is terrible. What we`re really talking about is class size, terrible
underfunding. We`re talking about high-stakes testing and we`re taking our
eyes away from the prize.
We need public education in this country. I mean, my school, I was the
product of public education, junior high school, high school, elementary
school. I can`t imagine having gone a different route and the fact that
people see this as a big business now. That`s Silicon valley millionaires
and billionaires setting their sights on it. They see it as a place to
make money. We have to make solid citizens.
HARRIS-PERRY: So -- I see challenges.
BRADFORD: Totally reject that at this point.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me just say, to think that there is classroom teacher
here, it is me. I am a teacher, right? I teach in the classrooms, you
know, all year. And I have tenure of the sort that people normally think
tenure means at the university level. Unless I do something really
horrifying, I get to keep my job, as the vast majority of my colleagues.
And in fact, everybody wants to send their children to schools that I teach
at because it is a place where the best people go to teach because we don`t
have that sense of at any moment we could be fired. Like I guess part of
what I find surprising is the presumption that k-12 would be so different.
You would attract the best teachers by removing job security rather than by
BRADFORD: So I want to make this point, again. There is job protection.
There is due process that exists for all New York state public employees
already. Tenure is in addition to that. So that`s the first thing.
WEINGARTEN: But it`s not true.
BRADFORD: The second thing, at the university level. You`re dealing with
a system where no one forces you to go to college, no one forces you to
pick a college. Right? I happen to be a fan of college.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, the one part of our system that most people agree
works, I mean, like on the global level. People come here to go to
BRADFORD: Right. But in the k-12 system like you get assigned to a school
based on where you live and you have no control of the teacher that you
get. So those things are fundamentally different. But the last and I
think the most important thing about this, like big business whatever. You
know, the lead plaintiff in the New York case, Mr. Wright. Let me tell you
what this is about for him. His twin daughters who go to the same school
and who had different teachers. And one is knocking it out of the park and
there is a real education disparity in this man`s home because of his other
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m with you. I get it. I get the parent thing. I`m a
parent. I get it. Boy. Man, a bad teacher makes you feel all the ways
about your child. And certainly as a parent with resources, a bad teacher
is something that I can move my kid around. I get all that. I really do.
But I also wonder if our individual experiential narratives can obscure a
much more broader reality. So just because, you know, this man`s twin
daughters are having a disparity doesn`t mean that, do you get what I`m
saying like, our individual stories could obscure the larger data.
WEINGARTEN: So let`s deal with -- I mean, let`s deal with what Mr.
Wright`s situation is. They were on New York one this week and Mr. Wright
was saying that one of the teachers buys supplies.
BRADFORD: Also a big issue.
WEINGARTEN: So, but the bigger point is this, how do like what we do with
the chancellor`s district and what Dana had said, how do we attract and
retain well prepared great teachers for our most needy kids? Because what
is happening is just a few miles down the road in Westchester, we`re not
talking about these issues. But in Rochester we are and we are in the
places where there is intense, real, social economic issues.
So why are we not having that conversation? That is the conversation we
need to have. And frankly, what I would argue is that you need to actually
give people better working conditions. You need to actually make sure that
they don`t fear that they`re going to be fired if they try something new or
if they stand up for their special needs kids. And that`s what we`d like
HARRIS-PERRY: You all know I moved recently just in Pier 1 this week
buying a beam bag for my daughter. I met this young woman named Elizabeth
who was working and checking me out and turns out Elizabeth is this
extraordinary fifth grade math teacher and she could not stop talking about
her kids the whole time while she checked me out at the Pier 1 because she
has to work a second job. And I kept thinking, you know, that time would
be better spent prepping her kids.
I promise, there is more on this. When we come back, I want to talk about
the politics of this and how it is playing out in one major American city.
Hi, Elizabeth, you deserve not to work a second job.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ve been discussing the latest education reform policy
push to eliminate teacher tenure and one city in the United States that got
a blank slate when it comes to education reform where all the teachers
including the more than 7,000 tenured educators were fired in one fell
swoop. That city is New Orleans after hurricane Katrina.
Teachers were placed on disaster leave without pay and then six months
after the storm were fired as families were trying to return to their homes
and mourn their loved ones and rebuild their lives.
In January of 2010, our current secretary of education Arne Duncan joined
Washington watch with Roland Martin on TV One to share his thoughts about
the Katrina tragedy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNE DUNCAN, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: Best thing that happened to the
education system in New Orleans was hurricane Katrina.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: He followed that comment up by saying, that education system
was a disaster. And it took hurricane Katrina to wake the community up to
say that we have to do better.
That`s a cabinet member saying the best thing to happen to the education
system in New Orleans, the most beneficial thing for the children of New
Orleans was to have their city devastated. The people of New Orleans
didn`t notice the challenges in their schools until those schools were
under water. That the destruction in the city was a great opportunity to
try out untested ideas about how education could work by firing all the
teachers and subjecting the city`s children to an experiment in education.
Now, as for how that experiment has been turning out this fall, New Orleans
recovery school district will be the first all charter district in the
United States. Last school year, only 12 percent of that district students
performed at the level of mastery or higher, compared to 24 percent
statewide. Only four percent of residents polled by the (INAUDIBLE)
institute classified New Orleans public schools as good. Nearly one-fifth
said schools are getting worse.
In the national education association, the largest teachers union in the
country is now calling for Secretary Duncan`s resignation which leads me to
ask you, Dana, whether or not the teacher fight, the education reform fight
and the charter or tenure fight could actually divide the Democratic Party.
GOLDSTEIN: Well, to an extent it already has, if we remember back to the
2008 democratic primary between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, we saw
the unions endorsed Hillary and not President Obama. And in fact,
President Obama was booed for supporting teacher merit pay when he spoke in
front of one union audience.
Then we know Barack Obama and his education secretary Arne Duncan dating
back to their time in Chicago. They are supporters of charter schools that
teach for America of choice and accountability, that`s their style.
HARRIS-PERRY: Those are such good words. I mean, like who isn`t for
choice and accountability, right?
GOLDSTEIN: They are good words. They`re more complicated than a
vocabulary would suggest. So one of the questions people have is if
Hillary is the next nominee of the Democratic Party or if she becomes
President will there be a shift? And I think there might be a shift closer
to the unions historically. But I would question that a little bit because
in recent years I noticed that Bill Clinton in particular has kind of cozy
up a little to the charter school folks, if you go to his--.
HARRIS-PERRY: And she`s been hanging out with Jeb Bush and the reform
GOLDSTEIN: Yes. I mean, the politics have changed since `08 and the
Clintons they`ve got, they always have their finger on the pulse of how
things are changing.
HARRIS-PERRY: And in fact, the politics have change -- I guess part of the
reason I want to insert the politics here is because, you know, part of
what happens with education whether you`re classroom teacher or whether it
is the reformer who comes in and says I know something that can help you,
is that you need trust.
And so for me, when I hear my secretary of education be, man, you didn`t
even notice your schools are whacked until Katrina. Trust is just like,
now I don`t trust you. Whatever else you say, I don`t trust you. Because
I just don`t -- I don`t believe that you see me. So, part of what I`m
wondering is, is there, is there a reason that the politics here might
actually undermine the trust of communities in being able to build up or
even have this conversation about teacher tenure reform that isn`t teacher
WEINGARTEN: Look, you just hit it. But after the (INAUDIBLE) lawsuit and
the secretary`s comment, by the way, my union actually put the secretary on
an improvement plan. Said that we should do things like actually fund
equity and fund kids.
HARRIS-PERRY: Any call for the resignation, just do better.
BRADFORD: This is more impressive of the two.
WEINGARTEN: No, we said you get due process like everybody else should
HARRIS-PERRY: I see, you`re protecting his tenure, how nice.
WEINGARTEN: We`re protecting his due process. But we want him to improve.
But the bottom line is, after he said what he said, there were several
Democrats, including governor Strickland of Ohio and former Governor
Grandholm of Michigan and Donna Brazile that started Democrats for public
education. For the very same reasons as Amy just said. Because at the end
of the day, what you see here is if we`re going to help all kids, it can`t
be about mass school closings, mass firings and accountability. It has to
be about how are we actually going to help kids have a joy of learning and
actually help them do have critical thinking, resilience, build
So I do think at least in the Democratic Party, unlike the Republican party
right now there is a war for that kind of conscious and hopefully what will
win is kids and the people who actually help kids learn and thrive. It`s
complicated. And it takes more than just a sound bite and that`s what some
Democrats are now doing.
BRADFORD: And I happen to be a Democrat. And I think it`s --
HARRIS-PERRY: Although it would be totally fine if you weren`t.
BRADFORD: I know.
Look, I just want to say, it`s important that people understand that like
no political party is a block. Right there is like wide range of opinion
and every, you know, political universe, that`s just the first thing.
The second is, is that it is like look, people are taking on tenure and
life would you like less protections and talking about assessments in these
things because in the absence of talking about them and essence of serving
like raising them in the public consciousness, nothing happens. Nothing
happens, right? So you can be upset about the language that gets used and
maybe it`s definitely a little bit in the case of Katrina, but at least
now, like the issues are on the table.
No one`s on the other side pushing back hard on the fact that a kid in New
York can go to school today, fund a huge chunk of the system and graduate
with a diploma that he or she can`t read. If you don`t think there is a
huge social issue to take on, that we need to have a totally different
HARRIS-PERRY: Darrell, so I love it. And Amy, I`ll let you in on this as
soon as we come back, because this question of is there someone else on the
other side pushing back hard is exactly the question I want to ask in going
right back in the issue of public either something pushing for the notion
of a public system that is pushing back hard or we have the consensus about
other issues, when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ve been talking about the ongoing battle about the issue
of teacher tenure. And Amy, you have laid on the table that has gone
around the public and the very notion that public education.
GOODMAN: Well, you know, you talked about the New Orleans lawsuit and then
who does teach in these schools, the whole issue of teach for America. I
was just meeting with a California teacher on Friday and she said, you
know, we have teach for America, you know. Any teacher can be thrown out
and you can be replaced by a young person who has no experiences. Do we
have operate for America? You know, any doctorate. Go into a school, you
know, graduate from college and go to a hospital somewhere.
But the issue of whether this is bipartisan, sadly, it is. You were just
talking about Arne Duncan and go back to Rod Paige in 2004 who called the
national education association a terrorist organization in a private
meeting with governors.
Who stands up for the public? Accountability. Do charter schools have
accountability when they can throw any kid out so they don`t bring down
their average on test scores? What accountability for a democratic society
is about everyone having a fair chance and pouring resources not into wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan, but into our schools and into our teachers and to
these learning environments.
My final point with the California teacher, she said, you know, I`m trying
to think, maybe we could change the name of our school. Put the word
corrections in it. Because we get the money, right, because it was a
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So Derrell, this feels to me you talked about
pushing back on the other side. And this piece of the pieces feels to like
it keep being missing. Is it public schools are not problematic because
they are public schools when they are well-resource, when they -- I mean, I
sent my kid to a public school in Princeton, New Jersey. Guess what, it is
a very high-performing school, right? And guess what the teachers have,
tenure. You know what they do? They stay really long time. And, so, it`s
just hard for me to believe that this thing is the thing causing inequality
matters, but I don`t understand the causal link.
BRADFORD: So, there`s no one thing that is specifically responsible and
there is no one thing that specifically needs to be changed and I never
argued that and no right thinking person ever does. So you know, you can
look at a price at Newark where they spend $25,000 a kid, right? Like it
is some place as resources and some place it is.
You can find very high-performing schools with low-income kids and then
that are like traditionally public. It`s possible to do it. The challenge
is that like the Obama administration actually released the OSR, the
(INAUDIBLE) recently. That the problem is that systemically and
systematically, the current system makes sure the least experienced
teachers go precisely to the place where we need the most experienced
teachers. They`d makes sure the schools are segregated based on residency,
which means that definitely segregated based on race and then based on
income. It`s all of the accelerants to the achievement gap are actually
hard wire into the system. It is operating precisely the way it is
HARRIS-PERRY: So Dana, do we have models from our own history that work
GOLDSTEIN: Yes. you know, we did see achievement gaps close during the
years when we were more aggressively integrating our schools and we stopped
doing that because bussing was so controversial. There are other models.
WEINGARTEN: Say that four more times. That when we integrated our schools
aggressively, we had better outcomes.
GOLDSTEIN: Yes. So through the years in the achievement gap close most
aggressively. But I think -
HARRIS-PERRY: I feel like, you know, again, I`m going back to doing the
exact thing that litigants shouldn`t do. But that is the school, those are
the schools I went to. The public school in the U.S. south in the late
1970s right on the back end of that aggressive integration where even
though they were, you know, they were neighborhood public schools, they
weren`t racially and economically segregated. So we went to free school
and got great, had a bad teacher and survived it.
WEINGARTEN: But at the moment here instead of actually giving teachers
voice, we`re trying to take it away. Instead of actually saying, we should
make this a good profession, a profession that people have tools and
conditions. We can do some of this work. The issue s we`re facing all of
those, not the system`s responsibilities, but that`s what the world has
brought to children right now. And we think that education is what helps
fix it. But we don`t give poor kids the tools to help or teachers the
tools to help and instead we derived the public system. Chances is New
York city, we turned around outcomes even in this for every elementary
school by attracting and retaining great teachers in those schools and
giving them the tools. That`s the conversation we need to have.
HARRIS-PERRY: And we could continue this conversation.
WEINGARTEN: I`m sorry.
HARRIS-PERRY: Please, do not be sorry. We will continue to have this
conversation here in Nerdland because you know education is close to the
heart of nerds.
Thank you to Dana Goldstein and also top Randi Weingarten and as always to
Derrell Bradford. Amy Goodman is still sticking around.
Coming up, a look at the claim that there is a war on whites taking place
in American politics. There is so much more Nerdland at the top of the
HARRIS-PERRY: It has been nearly a week since Alabama Congressman Mo
Brooks spoke with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham and responded to
these comments made by the National Journal`s Ron Fournier during an
appearance on "FOX NEWS SUNDAY."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON FOURNIER, NATIONAL JOURNAL: The fastest growing voting bloc in this
country. Thanks to Republican Party hates them. This party, your party
cannot be the party of the future beyond November if you`re seen as the
party of white people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, that fastest growing bloc that Fournier was responding
to there are Latino voters and the House GOP`s opposition to immigration
reform. But let`s go now to Congressman Brooks` reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA: This is a part of the war on whites that is
being launched by the Democratic Party and the way in which they`re
launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. If that`s the first time that you`ve heard it.
I`ll give you a second to pick your jaw up off the floor. But I do want to
pause here and think a little bit about what Brooks had to say. Because if
we look beyond the controversy of claiming that there is a war on white
people and into the deeper questions raised by the substance and context of
his comments, there is a lot to be learned about American politics and
electoral strategy. Now, Congressman Brooks is right that something is
happening to America`s white population. It is becoming relatively
According to the U.S. senses, by the year 2043, white people will no longer
be a majority in the United States. And while non-Hispanic whites will
still compromise the biggest single racial group. The U.S. will soon have
no single racial category that is, by itself, a majority. But that doesn`t
mean America is soon to be newest minority group is in danger of losing a
majority of America`s economic and political power any time soon. Check
this out, for the last 30 years, white families on average earn about $2
for every $1 earned by African-American Latino families.
And when we looked beyond income to total wealth, that gap is even wider.
A report from the Urban Institute found that from 1983 to 2010, average
wealth for white families has been about six times that of African-American
Latino families. A gap that was only widened by the great recession. In
the United States Congress, 80 percent of the members of House of
Representatives are white. Ninety three percent of the U.S. Senate is
white. And in corporate America for the fortune 500, there`s actually been
a decline in the number of African-American Latino and Asian American CEOs,
some high point between 2007 and 2011. But to be fair Congressman Brooks
who did say that this -- was only recently launched in Chicago, Illinois.
Mr. Brooks claims that quote, "it is part of the strategy that Barack Obama
implemented in 2008."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: We are one people. We are one
nation. And together we will begin the next great chapter in the American
story with three words that will ring from coast to coast from sea to
shining sea. Yes, we can!
And yet to wish away the resentment of white Americans to label them as
misguided or even racist without recognizing they are grounded in
legitimate concerns, this, too, widens the racial divide and blocks the
path to understanding.
And we were made more than a collection of red states and blue states. We
are and forever will be the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Yep. All that divisiveness earned Senator Obama 95 percent
of black voters and 67 percent of Latino voters in 2008. But notice that
he also won 43 percent of white voters. That is a full two percentage
points more than in terms of white voters than John Kerry won in 2004.
Meanwhile, these are some of the things we`ve heard republicans say in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The reforms I`m proposing would not apply to those who are here
DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR: All I want to do is see this guy`s birth
RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t want to make
people`s lives better by giving them somebody else`s money. I want to give
them the opportunity to go out and earn them money and provide for
themselves and their families.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Obama is the best food
stamp president in American history.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: We will put a handcuff on one of the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. No judgment or anything, but I`m just saying the
divisiveness might not just be a democratic strategy. Let`s take a look at
another big claim made by Congressman Brooks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROOKS: If you look at the polling data, every demographic group in
America agrees with the rule of law and forcing and securing our borders
and every one of them understands that illegal immigration hurts every
single democratic group. It doesn`t make any difference if you`re a white
American, a black American, a Hispanic American, an Asian American or if
you`re a woman or a man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Actually, congressman, it does make a difference. There`s a
wide and persistent gap between the political attitudes of Americans with
different races and recognizing these differences does not mean that there
is a race war. It does mean that race helps to organize how many Americans
think about politics and the choices they make. But the congressman is
right that there is a surprising level of agreement among Americans about
key immigration principles. In fact a data from a recent Pew setting show
that by a roughly three to one margin. The public thinks unauthorized
immigrants should be eligible for citizenship. Which brings us to the
congressman`s final rhetorical flourish.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROOKS: If they have to demagogue on this and try to turn it into a racial
issue, which is an emotional issue, rather than a thoughtful issue, it
becomes a thoughtful issue and then we win and we win big and they lose and
they lose big and I understand that. They get more desperate where they`ll
going to argue race and things like that to a much more heightened
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. Partial credit on this claim. There is a
difference between thinking about race and feeling about race. Which is
called this distinction, cognitive racial attitudes versus implicit racial
attitudes, we`re going to call it head versus gut. So, compared to 70
years ago, Americans are much more egalitarian when guided by our heads.
In fact, it`s pretty hard to find people who openly oppose integration or
believe in biological inferiority or support overt discrimination. Just
look at the change in support for interracial marriage since 1958, for
Now, it turns out that how we feel about race in our gut can be very
different than how we think about race in our heads. Recent research
showed a disturbing residue of racial bias affecting how we interact with
our neighbors, our teachers, our doctors, our police officers and, yes,
with our elected officials. But Mr. Brooks is wrong that level headed
racial rationality favors republicans. It is actually those gut reactions
that seem to help republican candidates. As researchers at the University
of Washington showed, between January and April 2012, eligible voters who
favored whites over blacks, either consciously or un-consciously also
favored republican candidates relative to Barack Obama. So much for the
war on white people. When we come back, my panel weighs in.
HARRIS-PERRY: Republican Congressman Mo Brooks took a lot of heat earlier
in the week when during an interview he spoke of a quote, "war on white"
that`s being launched by the Democratic Party. And once questioned on his
comments, Congressman Brooks did not back down. Rather he found new
language. Here he is from Thursday on the Tea Party News Network.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROOKS: What I want these democrats to do is to stop dividing Americans
based on race. It doesn`t make any difference what your skin pigmentation
is. In America this is the land of opportunity. You can excel provided
you`re willing to study hard, work hard, take advantage of the
opportunities that are presented in our country and there are plenty of
people who have been able to establish that this race issue should be way
behind us, but, unfortunately, the democrat campaign strategy is to keep it
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me now are Amy Goodman, host and executive producer
of "Democracy Now." Vincent Hutchings, professor of Political Science
University of Michigan. Kai Wright, editor-at-large at Colorlines.com.
And Jonathan Rosa, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of
So, I actually want to start with you, Jonathan. Because all of this got
kicked off in response of this question around sort of whether or not the
Republican Party can continue to exist if it is anti-immigration in the way
that it has been. What do you make of these comments?
JONATHAN ROSA, UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS AMHERST: Well, I think first in
order to understand them, we have to enter this alternate racial reality
where there is this war on whites were talking about race is what divides
people rather than racial inequality. So, it is part of the broader deep
politicization of race and racism. So, it`s racism is not about structural
inequality, it`s not about unequal access to institutions and resources,
it`s about talking about race. So, the Democratic Party`s problem is they
keep bringing race up and that`s what is leading to this war on whites.
But the other power of this notion that there is a war on whites. On one
hand he contributes to the Democratic Party but it also invokes this
anxiety around Latinos entering the nation and crossing the border without
authorization and ultimately they`re the ones who are positioned as the
people who are waging this war. So, it`s a political issue around
democrats and republicans, a partisan issue but it`s also an issue around
HARRIS-PERRY: So, this point seems such an -- it`s part of what I was
trying to tease a little bit, although very briefly there, Vince about
implicit racial attitudes versus explicit ones in part because as I have
seen the crisis of the border children I keep feeling like our inability to
even talk about it as a refugee crisis or as a children`s crisis, but,
instead, to constantly come back to an immigration framework is because of
implicit attitudes about Latinos in this country that we may not even be
sort of completely clear of it, top of mind, but sort of in a different
place feel like, oh, this is the existential threat to the country are
these brown people entering from the south.
VINCENT HUTCHINGS, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: Yes, I think that`s
actually quite correct and I think Jonathan raised a number of important
points on this matter. We should also realize that there`s a context
that`s thriving these comments from Congressman Brooks. The party system
in this country is so heavily racialized. It isn`t just the vote choice
for president in 2012 or 2008, actually goes all the way back to the 1960s.
Republicans, about 90 percent of republicans are white. About 40 percent
of democrats are non-white.
And these give incentives for candidates to make racial appeals. Actually,
really in both parties. The republican side there is an incentive to try
to mobilize an increasingly as you indicated, Melissa, an increasingly
shrinking white electorate. They want to mobilize them making the charge
that democrats as somehow trying to mobilize racial minorities by trying to
take things away from whites. But democrats on the other hand, they also
have their incentives. The incentive for democrats is to try to mobilize
racial minorities a growing part of the electorate but they want to do that
without alienating moderate whites and it`s a delicate balancing act.
HARRIS-PERRY: And one of the ways that you do that is to welcome attacks.
I mean, you know, just thinking about the politics of this on a more local
level. So, I`m not suggesting that this is necessarily happening at the
national level. But when you are running in a party system that is heavily
divided by race like this, if you are an African-American candidate and you
need more African-Americans to turn out the vote for you, one of the
effective strategic possibilities is to become the target of a racial
attack by a white opponent, which often will lead black voters to feel more
motivated to show up. So, in that sense, it`s not a war on whites, but it
is a recognition that in a divided country like this, there is some value
in pointing out, I`m being attacked.
KAI WRIGHT, COLORLINES EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Well, but I mean, the reality is
we look at who is claiming to have been attack racially, at least in the
last 30 years of politics. It`s not African-American candidates, it`s
white candidates like Congressman Brooks. And I think what is behind it
and is really troubling is that there`s a dishonesty to our political
conversation about race that leaves us unable to deal with the very
disparities that you pointed out that you pointed out earlier in the show
and it leaves individuals feeling really frustrated and confused about how
to understand them themselves.
You know, as a consequence of my jobs, I have forced to a conversation
about race with a huge sloth of people. Folks always want to say the right
WRIGHT: Like, what is the right thing to say about race? And the best
they could come up with is, well, I don`t see race and these politicians
want to make me see race.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yep. But this comes back to Jonathan`s point about the
discourse of nature of it, right? That, I mean, so we`re looking at a poll
from 2013, showing 2013 Gallup poll that asks Americans, do you believe
that race relations are good. A solid majority of both white and black
Americans think race relations is good and I`m asking myself, what in the
world is a race relation? I mean, what are we talking about here? Like,
can you be friendly with people of a different race? Sure. But what does
that have to do with structural inequality.
WRIGHT: Yes. And you know, and the problem is that you have the
Republican Party setting up this kind of dog whistles.
WRIGHT: I think every Democratic Party that is avoiding a fight it`s
already in. Right? There`s been this consensus since at least the late
`90s, you know, that in the Democratic Party --
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m going to go with the early `90s. I`ll go with `92.
WRIGHT: I was trying to be generous. That says, hey, if you know, the
only way we`re going to pass progressive policy is if we mute the racial
impact of that progressive policy. We can`t talk about how race matters --
HARRIS-PERRY: You`re so kind. Or we just do bad racial policy like
welfare reform in order to prove that we are --
WRIGHT: This is the outcome of trying to politically lead to bad policy
HARRIS-PERRY: Stay with us, because there`s provocative new article that
seems to contradict the argument made by Congressman Brooks and we`ll going
to get to that next. And I`m going to get Amy Goodman to weigh in on
HARRIS-PERRY: Notwithstanding, Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks is assertion
of a nascent war on whites, the cover story of the August 25th edition of
"The New Republic" this is how the civil rights movement ends details a
frontal attack on civil rights in Alabama. A republican controlled state
legislatures have stripped away decades of hard won African-American
political power and is having real effects.
TNR senior editor Jason Zengerle writes, "Today the south where 55 percent
of America`s black population lives is increasingly looking like a
different country. Fewer children can read, more adults have HIV, his
residents suffer from the shortest life expectancies of any in the United
War on who? So, the fact that this article about a destruction of black
political power in Alabama as the Alabama congressman is saying, there is a
war on white.
GOODMAN: I would like him to come with me to the Birmingham Museum. I was
just recently at the civil rights museum, or think about, you know, Rosa
Parks we`re still talking about Alabama here. It is sad. We`re talking
about 50, 60 years ago. When we`re not, we`re talking about today, as
well. The crackdown on voting rights in this country. I mean, the studies
have just been done. I think the "Washington Post" said a billion votes,
31 cases of voter fraud, we`re talking about nothing here.
So, the structural, tremendous inequality like we`ve never seen before.
And this obscures us. I mean, that invoke really real terms just a couple
of years ago. White family, medium wealth like 113,000. Latino it`s like
6,200 or three hundred and for African-Americans it`s like $5,600.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And for unmarried black women, medium wealth, $5.
GOODMAN: This is what we have to deal with. And it`s also hard to respond
to this and we`re here in New York. What happened in Staten Island. This
is another kind of violence. The structure violence. Eric Garner dies in
a chokehold. This African-American man 43 years old, father of six and the
police put him in a chokehold illegally and he ends up dead.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So, what you lay out here is impart, a set a part of
data that help us to see inequality, but then I guess part of what I want
to do is to enter into the alternate universe that Jonathan was talking
about. Because, you know, here you have Alabama congressman, about 25
percent of the people who live in Alabama are African-American but of the
nine people who either are in the U.S. House of Representatives or the
Senate for Alabama one of them is African-American. But he does seem to
perceive real and actual threat.
HARRIS-PERRY: What is that?
HUTCHINGS: Well, I think in part is that, I spoke to this a bit earlier.
The Republican Party is so homogenously white that attacks on the
Republican Party from the democrats, from the nature of the partisan
warfare kind of it`s perceived as it is an attack on whites. I think it`s
the nature of the party system is so heavily racialized. I keep hitting on
that point because I think Americans don`t often appreciate it. It has
serious implications for the health of our democracy. If an attack on a
democrat ends up being an attack on racial minorities and an attack on
republican ends up being an attack on whites, and that is layers all the
racial divisiveness that goes back centuries in this country and layers it
on top of the partisan divide. That can`t be healthy.
HARRIS-PERRY: Jonathan, as I hear that, I am having this remembrance of
the fight impart between Ta-nehisi Coates and oh God, Jonathan Chait about
whether or not it is partisanship or race and I`m also thinking here about
the ways in which brooks at various points tries to reduce race to class
and say, oh, it`s just about everybody is struggling economically. So, how
do we do the thing that you suggested which is to hold on to racial,
cultural, linguistic national origin specificity and the value of not only
discussing it, but governing appropriately to it without generating this
kind of response?
ROSA: Well, I think this conversation helps us to understand why we need
an intersectional and an interracial analysis of what citizenship in the
U.S. is all about. So, by looking at the African-American experience, we
can understand that simply discussing a pathway to citizenship for Latinos
is by no means a guarantee of access. So, and when we look
intersectionally we see the way of the gender plays into these dynamics, as
well. I`ve been struck by the conversations about the children crossing
the border and the ways that I see almost a translation of the welfare
queen, so it`s all about these kids gaining access to these goodies that
they`re not really entitled to. And so there`s this feminization of these
children and then at the same time this mass communication of them as well
as future criminals. And so, this intersectional or interracial analysis
tells us a lot about what`s happening.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. You just said something that made me think of
something I haven`t thought of previously. And that is that the Latino
vote has become increasingly partisan in a way that it wasn`t. There was a
point which Latinos were splitting their vote about half and half between
the two parties and now it is increasingly, at least behind the two Obama
elections, it is increasingly a democratic vote. This is going to sound
strange on television, but are Latinos becoming black rather than becoming
white in their pathway to citizenship. By which I mean, you in other
words, are they as a matter of politics and ideology going to look more
like African-Americans than like white ethnic groups that previously have
come to the U.S. and sort of become members of both parties?
ROSA: Well, so, I`m so happy that you brought this up because "The New
York Times" has been talking about Latinos becoming white decide. This is
all based on really superficial ideas about what race is all about. It`s
just identification. Not politics, not positioning societally or
structurally. But I do think that in the context of mass deportation, we
see a profound racialization of Latinos. And so, the only way that they
would gain access to politics would be through an alignment alongside other
HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back Kai, I want to put you in because I want
to play again some of that sound I played earlier and ask whether or not
we`re all just playing the race card.
HARRIS-PERRY: Earlier I played some sound from some republicans over the
course of the Obama presidency. I want to play it again and ask Kai a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The reforms I`m proposing would not apply to those who are here
TRUMP: All I want to do is see this guy`s birth certificate.
SANTORUM: I don`t want to make people`s lives better by giving them
somebody else`s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and
earn them money and provide for themselves and their families.
GINGRICH: Obama is the best food stamp president in American history.
BACHMANN: We will put a handcuff on one of the president`s hand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: No person used the "n" word. No person said we just like
the president for being black. Am I playing the race card when I play that
sound and suggest that it is racially divisive?
WRIGHT: I mean, this is exactly the point. Is that the Republican Party
largely has spent the last 30 years at least. Arguing as long as you don`t
say race, as long as you say anything rather than race, you`re fine. If
you say race, you`re a racist. And creating this upside down topsy-turvy
world. But I think what`s important to listen to in all of those comments
and particularly the ones on the economics, the food stamp president and
we`re going to earn your money, these are very, very old ideas about what a
black person is. And they`re trying in America right that you`re lazy and
you`re potentially criminal and that you`re just looking for a handout.
People moving that idea about blackness since reconstruction. And it is
been a -- area in conservative ideology about blackness since
reconstruction. And, so, we have spent 30 years now listening to it in a
coded sense while and I`m going to take issue with the democrats while they
have failed to challenge it. And failed to lead on it. And so, as
damaging as that tape is, as awful as it is to hear people say, oh, well,
you know, we don`t want to give these black folks a hand out from the
Republican Party, the real problem is that the progressives who are
supposed to be challenging these ideas are saying, no, we`re not going to
have that conversation.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, will the world just be better when we don`t have a black
president anymore? I mean, no, I`m serious. This has been suggested that
if the president wasn`t black, then we wouldn`t have to keep doing this.
And if it was just a good white democrat, then you wouldn`t see so much
anger and angst and stress and divisiveness.
GOODMAN: It would be better when we can have this open honest conversation
about equality in America. Whatever the color of the president or the vice
president, whatever the gender of the person, we have to recognize the, I
mean, especially this issue of disparity. Of opportunity, of wealth. This
is determining the future of our country, every which way for young people,
how the world sees us. If we`re talking about, you know, national
security. These are issues of national security. When people have very
little invested in a system, that is not healthy.
HARRIS-PERRY: Vince, I wonder though if this what we`re seeing with this
president, it feels like it violates the expectations I have as a political
scientist. So my political scientist brain says, the first time that a
black mayor or representative gets elected, they have a small percentage of
the white vote. But then as they remain in incumbency, they have not only
a general incumbency advantage but also one associated with race. Where
more white folks are like, oh, he`s just regular and then they just go
ahead and end up with a higher percentage of the white vote.
This president ended up with the lower percentage of the white vote in his
re-election campaign, although also, fairly lower percentage of the
African-American vote. I wonder if the presidency is unique as an office,
as compared to other offices. Like black mayors and congressmen. I mean,
or in other words, wouldn`t it just be better to have a white president
because then we wouldn`t have to do this?
HUTCHINGS: Well, couple of things, Melissa. One, I think what happened in
2012 is kind of a reversion to the mean so to speak. 2008, remember, was a
very unusual year. It was a great year for Obama.
HARRIS-PERRY: You`re telling me. We elected a guy named Barack Obama from
the south side of Chicago for presidency.
HUTCHINGS: But number two, the incumbent president in 2002 George W. Bush
is historically the lowest rated president in the history of American
polling. So, it wasn`t just a great year for democrats, it was a
historically bad year for republicans. This boosting somewhat Obama`s
numbers in `08. It gave an impression that he was somewhat more effective
in reaching across the aisle than he really was. It`s not a knock on
Obama, it`s a notion, we have to be cognizant of the fact that any democrat
in 2008 would have done well because republicans were so revile in part
because of the state of the economy.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stay with us because I want to go to one other issue around
race when we come back and that is the issue of law and order. Amy talked
a bit about it earlier. And there`s already new case raising questions
about policing in communities of color.
HARRIS-PERRY: You can`t have a discussion about race and politics in
America without talking about the police in the courts and the trial of a
white home owner and the killing of a black teenager seeking help. We got
a verdict on Thursday, guilty on all charges. The jury deliberated for
less than ten hours over two days and found 55-year-old Theodore Wafer
guilty of killing 19-year-old Renisha McBride. Wafer was found guilty on
the charges of second degree murder, manslaughter and felony firearm
Renisha McBride was apparently seeking help in the early morning hours of
November 2nd, 2013 after a car accident. Instead of help, Wafer who was
awakened by what he termed as violent pounding on his door, shot and killed
Renisha McBride through his screen door. Renisha`s mother, Monica McBride
had this to say after the verdict.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MONICA MCBRIDE, MOTHER OF RENISHA MCBRIDE: The prosecutor, they did a
wonderful job of proving their burden that they had. They had had a heavy
burden, but they made it through. It was overwhelming. I kept the faith
and I stayed positive.
We note as parents how we raised her. She was not violent. She was a
regular teenager and she was well raised and brought up with a loving
family and her life mattered. And we show that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Wafer will be back in court August 25th for sentencing and
faces the possibility of life in prison. But just over the past day,
another shooting inflamed tensions on Saturday. This time in Ferguson,
Missouri, near St. Louis where a teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed
by a police officer. A witness told the St. Louis post dispatch several
shots hit Brown as he ran away from officers while they were attempting to
put him into a squad car. This morning the St. Louis County Police
Department chief talked to reporters and here`s what he says happened
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON BELMAR, ST. LOUIS COUNTY PD CHIEF: One of those individuals at the
time came in as the officer was exiting his police car allegedly pushed the
police officer back into the car where he physically assaulted the police
officer. It is our understanding at this point in the investigation that
within the police car, there was a struggle over the officer`s weapon.
There was at least one shot fired within the car. After that, the officer
came back out of the car, he exited his vehicle and there was a shooting
that occurred where the officer, in fact, shot the subject.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: KSDK also reports the St. Louis NAACP office has called for
the FBI to investigate the shooting.
So, Amy, you were talking about the Eric Garner chokehold case in which the
medical examiner has said complicity on the part of the New York City
police for this. Now we`re seeing this shooting, we have no idea whether,
these are all just allegations at this point. But it`s more that feeling
when I was thinking about Mo Brooks saying, I feel like there is this war
on whites and that feeling of another young black person dead gives you
that feeling of being embattled.
GOODMAN: And I want to add one more thing to the Eric Garner story. Is
that the man that videotaped --
GOODMAN: This is the reason we know. I mean, maybe a videotape will show
up in this case from St. Louis. But the reason we know exactly what
happened to Eric Garner in Staten Island that he was put in this illegal
chokehold is because this young man named Ramsey Orta videotaped it.
HARRIS-PERRY: He`s been arrested.
GOODMAN: He`s been arrested. And his wife now Chrissie Ortiz has also
been arrested and she is saying in the 4:00 in the morning, a police light
is coming into their apartment. This is about police around the country
and certainly not all police, but somehow feeling they have permission.
So, it`s not only that they killed the person, they killed the messenger.
The one who showed us what actually took place. They arrest him and they
arrest his wife. This is a very serious issue. It`s the reality of people
in America. And, sadly, the reality all too often of people of color in
ROSA: Just thinking about the fundamental kind of disposability of black
and brown bodies in these cases. But when we compare the Renisha McBride
situation to say the desperate coverage around Renisha McBride as compared
to say Trayvon Martin, there is also the hyper-visibility and hyper-
invisibility of particular bodies. Then when we look at the verdict of
say, the Trayvon Martin verdict of say, the Trayvon Martin trials compared
to Renisha McBride, I`m left thinking about the gender and racialized
nature of empathy and the potential to maybe empathize differently.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, it`s interesting question. You know, as we were
awaiting the verdict, I was wondering, are we going to need to do a segment
about African-American communities caring less about violence against black
girls and women. And also was wondering, are we going to need to talk
about the ways in which it might have made more sense to a jury that a
young woman was innocent as a victim of a shooting than a young black man
being innocent of it because of our presumptions about young black male.
Like all of those things happening at the same time.
Africa summit in the U.S. and Jonathan is here and, you know, the big
hashtag bring back our girls isn`t even brought up, you know, as he is
standing on American soil to ask, excuse me, where are our girls? So,
there is always this intersection, but it is both the actual things
happening. But also the feeling that it gives you. That sense of
vulnerability and I just wonder like, is there any possibility of healing
across, I mean, on the one hand you live in communities that need public
safety, but then the police feel like they are your opponents instead of
WRIGHT: They police from fear. And I think one of the things that`s
interesting about the Renisha McBride case is that the defendant`s argument
was, I was terrified that there were boys outside begging to get in my
house, right? So, ironically, the defense moved the idea that there were
these black boys outside coming to get me and that`s why I shot. Which
HARRIS-PERRY: Which might have been defensible in the mind of some jurors
given our anxiety about black male criminality.
WRIGHT: About black male criminality. And time and time again, we don`t
know what happened in St. Louis in details but we know what happened in a
lot of previous police shootings. The defense comes down to the cop feared
for his or her life. The person believed that, oh, I was in danger. Even
though that when you take apart the fact there was very little reason for
that person to believe they were actually in danger.
HARRIS-PERRY: Vincent, that brings us all the way back to the very first
things I was saying about implicit racial attitudes.
HARRIS-PERRY: Which do we exist. So, the -- I felt and feared for my
life, they are not necessarily telling a falsehood or untruth. This is
that gut race thing which is different than the head race thing.
HUTCHINGS: Absolutely right, Melissa. I wanted to jump in on that very
point. There`s plenty of social psychological research here indicating
that, in fact, as was being said earlier by Jonathan. Black and brown
bodies do elicit more fear from people, including police officers. So, it
is possible that both of these things are simultaneously true. There`s
genuine fear on the part of the law enforcement officials and there is a
discrepancy in terms of how they respond to blacks and browns as opposed to
white citizens. I think both of those things co-exist in this country and
it`s part of the nature of racial kind of inequality that dates back to the
founding and deep before the founding.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I mean, it`s like the most chilling research is the
shooter studies where, you know, subjects are, you know, just, you see
flashes and the number of times that people are going to shoot, it`s just a
video game. But they`re willing to shoot black and brown bodies is
substantially more. Even within the same race. So, I guess part of what I
have to ask is, punishment of police officers or of individuals, you know,
who take lives is important. But it also feels insufficient to stop the
next thing if the problem is the gut race thing and not the head race
WRIGHT: The problem is actually the structural thing. Right? It`s the
structure of policing and how we write our laws now about self-defense.
Because the implicit bias is real. It`s real for black, white, everybody.
WRIGHT: It already has these implicit biases. And so, if you have a
policing apparatus that`s built around, one, beefing up with deadly
gadgetry, be it new weapons or tasers or whatever it is. That`s what put
money into gadgetry that is deadly and aggressively policing very specific
neighborhoods, then human beings --
HARRIS-PERRY: And broken windows, right? And very small petty crimes.
WRIGHT: Broken windows, which is a fancy way of saying aggressively
policing black neighborhoods.
WRIGHT: And if you do those things and you throw human beings into those
apparatus and into that kind of situation, you`re going to have dead
WRIGHT: And unless you change those structures and we know how, there are
ways to do it. Then this is going to keep happening and the punishment is
beside the point. I mean, it`s important but it`s beside the point.
HARRIS-PERRY: And it is different than saying there is a bad, there are
bad officers. I mean, there may be bad officers but still a different
solution than saying you must go root out the races. It is, we have to
change these structures and how they operate.
WRIGHT: One of the primary responses going all the way back was we need to
have more diverse police forces, so now we do. But if you take a black or
brown cop and put them inside a police force that is teaching, that is
encouraging people to shoot, then you`re going to have violence no matter
who the person is.
HARRIS-PERRY: This was depressing, but not depressing. It`s informative,
but depressing because it feels like race can sometimes be both in forms of
end depressing. But we`re going to end on a high note. But I`m going to
say thank you to Amy Goodman and to Vincent Hutchings, Kai Wright and to
So, when we come back, though, we`ll going to talk about this moment when
history was made this week. A really good story to make you feel better.
Going out on your Sunday afternoon. There`s a big moment in professional
sports and we`re calling in the coach to talk about it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Becky Hammon`s tore ACL might have been just the break she
needed. The seventh-time WNBA all-star has recovered from the injuries she
suffered in July of 2013 and is now about playing point guard for the San
Antonio Silver Stars capping off her final season as a pro-player. But she
used her recovery time productively, staying around the game by hanging
around with the fellows who played in the same building, the San Antonio
Hammon hang out with the team, attended meetings and worked with the
players in film sessions and on the court. Head coach Gregg Popovich
praised her during the playoffs adding that he believed she could coach in
the all male NBA. I don`t see why not. There shouldn`t be any
limitations, he said. It`s about talents and the ability to do things,
it`s not what your sex or your race or anything else. The Spurs went on to
win the NBA title soon after he said that and decided this week that they
were not done being the best.
Popovich hired Hammon to be an assistant coach on his staff, making her the
first woman to coach full time in the NBA.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECKY HAMMON, SPURS ASSISTANT COACH: Obviously that`s great and it`s a
tremendous honor. But I think the bigger point is I`m getting hired
because I`m capable because of my basketball like you, and stuff that
they`ve seen in me personally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And who better to discuss what this means for women and the
game of basketball, than Indiana Fever head Coach Lin Dunn, a legend in her
own right. She and her team won the WNBA title in 2012. And Coach Dunn
was inducted into the Women`s Basketball Hall of Fame in June. She`s
retiring at the end of this season, her 44th year of coaching college and
pro-basketball. She and the Fever are here in New York to play the Liberty
this afternoon. Coach, I`m so happy you are here.
LIN DUNN, INDIANA FEVER HEAD COACH: Well, I`m thrilled to be here. I wish
you could come to the game with me.
HARRIS-PERRY: I know, I really I got your invite. Now, like man, that
would be so great but I can`t, but maybe you could come hang out with me on
set. And now we got this news about Becky Hammon, what do you think about
DUNN: Absolutely thrilling. I`m just so excited that Gregg Popovich and
the Spurs realized what a great asset to their team Becky Hammon could be.
You know, she is one of the all-time greats in our league.
HARRIS-PERRY: I went to college at Wake Forest at the same time, I was a
senior when Tim Duncan was a freshmen, and so I have a special place in my
heart for San Antonio.
DUNN: I`m sure you do.
HARRIS-PERRY: And especially now. Tell me, when you think about what that
means, I mean, you`ve seen the transition even of the existence of the
WNBA. Are we finally getting to a place where we can think of women
athletes, and particularly women in the game of basketball, as equivalently
if differently fabulous to watch as players?
DUNN: Well, they are fabulous to watch because we play below the rim. You
know, it`s not just one and done with the dunk. You know, we move the
ball, we set great screens. And I think that`s something the Spurs value
too. I think that`s why they value Becky. What I`m excited about is this
ceiling that we`re breaking through with women in leadership roles in the
NBA, with women refereeing in the NBA. With women officiating in football.
You know, there`s an area there that we`ve never crossed over into and
Becky being hired in the NBA is a huge step forward for us.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, you were inducted into the hall of fame speaking of
breaking ceilings, how do the effect feel for you? What was that moment
DUNN: Well, it was overwhelming, it was humbling, you know, to join the
likes of Kay Yow, and Pat Summitt and Billie Moore and all of the coaches
that I`ve looked up to in the past and to be part of that group is just
overwhelming and I`m just truly honored.
HARRIS-PERRY: What does team sports do for women? What`s the experience
of playing -- even if you`re never going to make it to the WNBA, what does
it mean to be a third grader playing on your women`s basketball team?
DUNN: Well, first of all, you learn all about team work, you learn all
about being competitive, you learn all about trust. I think you learn some
things in sports and competing in sports that I don`t know where you learn
anywhere else. I`m not sure that you learn it just in the classroom. And
I know the corporate world, they want those team players and they want
those women that have competed at a high level. So I think that`s a great
track to get you into maybe the CEO of GE.
HARRIS-PERRY: So speaking of team players and women breaking ceilings and
barriers, I understand that you may be getting engaged more in questions of
politics once you have retire from your position in coaching.
DUNN: Well, as soon as I step away from the sideline. I`m going to get
involved in some social policies that I feel strongly about. LGBT rights,
how about getting a woman elected president in 2016. I`m onboard, I hope
you`re onboard. I think we have two great candidates in Warren and Hillary
Clinton. I`m really an advocate of equal pay for equal work. What can we
do to fix that situation? And then, of course, violence against women.
I`m just appalled at some of the things that are happening on our campuses
that go unnoticed, that go untaken care of with all of the rape scandals.
So, I think those things that I just mentioned will keep me busy, don`t
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, absolutely. And I got to tell you. I love that, this
connection. I mean, connection just in this moment when you said the
question of violence against women on college campuses and thinking about
the world that women athletes on those campuses could help to play to bring
visibility and some solutions to that.
DUNN: Absolutely. It`s a platform. I don`t think female athletes or
coaches realize the platform that they have in sports. The position that
they can take that can empower people to do the right thing. I think we
can do that in sports.
HARRIS-PERRY: And it is title 9 that both is meant to protect you from
sexual assault and give you a chance to play on the basketball team.
DUNN: Absolutely. I pray for title 9 every night. I`ll do this for title
HARRIS-PERRY: Lin Dunn, thank you for joining us and good luck this
DUNN: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for
watching. This show is going to be back next Saturday at 10:00 a.m.
But right now, stay tuned because up next is "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
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